This week's chosen ancestor, Bertha Jones Hodge is a different twist. Our families as in some other families have theses aunts or uncles that may or may not be blood kin. Aunt Bert is one of those special people that were in my life from the time of my birth.
Aunt Bert was around when my parents were married and when each of their four children were born from 1948-1952. She was a part of our life in Pennsylvania and later moved with my mother's sister, Betty and family to Washington, DC. Aunt Bert was warm, gentle and stood less than five feet. She always wore a bun and to see her hair down was to see that she had long curly hair. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania she would take her personal folding cart shopping in East Liberty selecting fresh produce. Upon return from her shopping you could be sure that she had okra and that purple bottle with a yellow top that was "prune juice". Prune juice to Aunt Bert was the key to healthy living and the requirement was a daily juice glass for a healthy life. I don't remember her ever being harsh but at the same time she didn't play and when she told you to do something you did it without question.
In reality, she was my mother's sister Betty's husband's aunt or great aunt. We lost the actual relationship, she was Aunt Bert, and very important to those of us that lived in the Pittsburgh area. The verbal history on Aunt Bert was that she was married twice and her last husband was John R. Hodge. They lived in Chicago until he had a heart attack then she moved Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The story was that she was born in Alabama and knew my maternal mother's side of the family, the Woodard's and that was our connection. For sure she was related to the Collier family that my mother's sister, Betty had married into. Aunt Bert was there for all of us. She worked at a movie theater at a booth where she sold tickets for the latest movie. Her little dog, Skippy sat in the booth with her as she worked. Aunt Bert was widowed twice and had no children so all of us first cousins belonged to her. I learned she was about sixty-five years old when I was born. Aunt Bert actually lived with my Aunt Betty and her family. However, she stayed with our family at various times and especially when my mother had surgery or needed assistance. We knew of other family members on "Aunt Bert's side" like Uncle Curly, Aunt Fannie, "Little Bit" and two of our generations referred to them this way. The ties were very strong and I believe there is an unknown family story. Now somewhere deep in my memory Uncle Curly and Aunt Fannie lived somewhere in in South Carolina. "Little Bit" was my aunt Betty's husband's mother and lived in Greensburg, PA.
I wished my interest in family history had come during Aunt Bert's lifetime. My curiosity led me to ask some questions and it paid off for Aunt Bert shared memories about attending my maternal grandparent's wedding in Jefferson County in July 1913. She would say often and very emphatically that the Woodard's are a good family and she was a part of the family. I asked my mother how Aunt Bert was related and she said that Aunt Bert had been married to one of her cousins (no details given). During my research I decided to explore that possibility.
Bertha Lee Jones in the 1900 US Census, Jefferson County Alabama lived in a household with her Stepfather, James, mother Sophia Grace, one brother James and two sisters Fannie and Allace (Alice) all Jones. Sopha and James Grace married about 1895.
There was an Alabama marriage record where Bertha L. Jones married Peter Davis 16 June 1904 and another one where she as Bertha Davis married John R. Hodge 5 July 1918. Both marriages were in Birmingham. By 1920 Bertha John Hodge were living in Chicago, Ward 2. In 1930, Aunt Bert was a widow living at the same place she had in 1920. Living with her was Addie and James Collier. James married my mother’s sister and Addie may have been a family member that we called “Little Bit”. All of this information and I still haven’t found a definite kinship. I will continue looking but it some ways it doesn’t matter since she was the oldest relative that I knew growing up, she was with us through thick and thin. All we shared equal family in my mind. Aunt Bert is one of my ancestors and had more influence on me and other family members than most.
Bertha Jones Hodge “The Queen” April 15, 1884-October 1985.
I don’t remember seeing “Aunt Fannie” often but knew she was Aunt Bert’s sister. Fannie Jones married Curley Parris on 25 October 1901. Aunt Fannie was born August 1880.